Good oral hygiene is about more than just fresh breath and a beautiful smile. Your oral health impacts your overall health in important ways, so it’s important that you are armed with accurate information, whether you are trying to change your habits or simply maintain the good ones you already have. Today, we’d like to dispel two common oral hygiene misconceptions that stand between you and lasting oral health.
Oral Health Misconception 1: Vigorous Brushing = Healthier Teeth and Gums
Whether you are scrubbing the bathtub or scouring a baking dish from last night’s lasagna, it is true that the harder you scrub, the cleaner the surface will be. But the same logic does not apply to your teeth. In fact, brushing too hard can damage both your teeth and your gums. As this helpful explanation from Colgate notes, “When the enamel layer of your tooth gets worn, either through abrasion or erosion, nerve endings in the dentin layer are either exposed or close enough to the surface that eating hot or cold foods or drinks can cause sensitivity.”
In addition to damaging tooth enamel, brushing too hard can cause gum recession. When gums recede, more sensitive and decay-prone portions of your teeth are exposed, further exacerbating the damage done by over-enthusiastic brushing.
If you aren’t sure if you are brushing too hard, you should take stock of your toothbrush. Are the bristles turned up and frayed outward? If so, it’s likely that you are applying too much pressure.
Oral Health Misconception 2: There Is a Right Time of Day to Floss
Many of our patients are working on developing a regular flossing habit, and are wondering when the right time of day to floss is. Intuitively, many people believe that nighttime is the ideal time to floss, as food and plaque that have accumulated throughout the day can be removed. Others believe that morning is the best bet, in the interest of starting the day with the freshest mouth possible. But the truth is much simpler than that: it really doesn’t matter.
The very best time of day for you to floss is the time which will help you be most likely to continue flossing. If you are out of energy at the end of your long days and cannot stand the thought of one more commitment, then do not add flossing to the list! On the other hand, if you are too rushed in the morning to spare another three minutes, do not try to add flossing to your morning routine. Pick the time of day that makes the most sense for you, and pursue your flossing habit diligently!